With kisses on the cheek in a gleaming hall of Egypt's intelligence services, leaders of rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement for Hamas to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. The Hamas takeover, which came a year after the group defeated Fatah in Palestinian parliamentary elections, left Abbas with autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Tahir en-Nunu, press adviser to Hamas ' political Bureau president Ismail Heniye, said, "Heniyye declares that Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement in morning at time of Egypt's mediation".
Details of the deal were announced at a news conference in Cairo, where the negotiators were meeting.
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas told AFP on Thursday, "I welcome the agreement".More news: USA pulls out of United Nations cultural body, cites 'anti-Israel' bias
"We also agreed that the [Ramallah-based Palestinian] government would operate Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt and all of Gaza's crossings with Israel", al-Ahmad added.
Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.
Since then, the relations between the two rival factions have been very tense and all attempts to reconcile them over the past years have failed to bring fruit. A small number of people, mainly medical patients, business people and aid workers, use the Erez crossing to enter Israel, usually bound for the West Bank.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's acting chief in Gaza, for his part, congratulated Abbas on the watershed agreement.More news: U.S. bombers, Japanese fighter jets conduct drill over Korean Peninsula
Struggling with the fallout from the border blockade, Hamas has found it increasingly hard to govern or provide basic services, such as electricity. Hamas and Israel fought three devastating wars over the past decade.
Sticking points include control over the arsenal of Hamas' armed wing and the fate of thousands of Hamas public servants.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Sissi in NY last month, denounced the reconciliation efforts, saying any future Palestinian government must disband the Hamas terror group's armed wing and sever its ties with Iran. Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory, severely restricting Palestinians from leaving the territory and goods from entering.More news: Doesn't President Donald Trump Say "Puerto Rico" In Such A Strange Way?